Thursday, January 19, 2017

Guess I've Never Been Good for Business

I don't think I'm better than others, only grateful I've never considered my worth as something outside of myself. Grateful to be naturally beautiful, fortunate in education, drawn to books (our great teachers), and willing to constantly analyze and re-evaluate my thoughts and feelings, looking for the holes. It's hard to live authentically in today's stuff-obsessed world. Thank you, Great Mother - I have many struggles, but vanity and greed aren't mine to fight.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Om Mani Padme Hum

My beads are now joined on one wrist. Out of practicality - they seemed to get in the way of things on my dominant side. But also out of solidarity. It just seems to make sense now. Kindness and creativity intertwined. You see, to be kind this year, I'll need to get creative. It can be a struggle to be kind to the people we love and respect, but it's really not that hard when you put your mind to it. Being kind to people whom you have lost all respect for because they either support bigotry, or worse, are indifferent to it and therefore complicit, is going to take the biggest effort of creativity I will ever have to muster. And the biggest act of kindness. Do I know how to navigate this? Not really. I've been thinking on it and grieving about it for months now. How do I continue to have relationships with these people? It's hard. I'm sad. I've been praying about it a lot. Praying for more kindness in the world. Praying for all of us to be just a teeny bit kinder today than we were yesterday. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if even that small thing happened? Goddess, that would be amazing! For now, while I ponder how to fight bigotry and show kindness for all beings, I've added something more to my daily prayers. Today I found a Tibetan compassion mantra. I don't have to think too hard about it. I just have to say it, repeat it, feel it, every day. It's a small thing, but it's all I got right now.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Welcome 2017, You Kind, Creative Soul!

A few years ago, my New Year's challenge was to meditate every day of the year. I accomplished my goal in part due to a strand of Buddhist prayer beads wrapped around my left wrist as a daily reminder. This year, I have made a two-part resolution: be kind; be creative. I'm now wearing two strings of beads, one on each wrist.

The first is the original strand. A humble, worn, strand of  dull light brown wooden beads, a perfect companion to kindness. Kindness encompasses so much, whether it's being a better mom or partner, building up my self-worth, or being a pebble in the great rock slide that will change the balance of hate and love in this world. Kindness is humble, and therefore, you won't see me writing too much about it here, at least not my own acts of kindness for others. Perhaps I'll ponder the kindnesses of others at times, but we'll see. 

The second strand of beads is dark, cherry brown, and glossy. I think of them as my "fancy beads." Like kindness, creativity has so many meanings and outlets. Cooking, writing, drawing, knitting, building, etc. Most things you do involve some sort of creativity (heck, making up a silly song to entertain a squirming baby who does not want his diaper changed is a form of creativity; doing the dishes with said baby strapped to your front also takes some creative positioning). So I don't see this as being a difficult resolution to keep, but I do think it's important to remember and cultivate and appreciate. It's my intention to write about creativity off and on throughout the year.

That's it. Maybe it seems too easy, although being kind can often feel challenging, especially being kind to ourselves and to those whose ideals seem so foreign to us, and creativity can be ignored in our busy lives. Yet these two simple words, kind and creative, are by far the most important qualities to possess, at least from my perspective. I hope to be thought fondly of as both.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Who Am I?

I wrote this last month and forgot to post it. Next time, I'll write about the New Year, but first, a fare thee well to 2016:

I was just thinking about that scene in Zoolander (the first one, the good one) where Zoolander looks into a puddle and asks his reflection, "Who am I?" and his reflection replies, "I don't know." Sometimes I feel this way. OK, sometimes I feel this way a lot. I spent the last few days rereading this ENTIRE blog - being a SAHOM for an almost 6 month-old is busy and time-consuming, but luckily, this nursing thing worked out fabulously, and I sometimes get to read while the little guy eats and falls asleep and naps at my chest. Yay me. Back to my point...

I reread this blog (backwards), and I realized a few things:

1. Damn, I am a good writer. I had me laughing and crying and just plain enjoying myself the whole damn time. I started writing when I was 13, and I'm never stopping. Oh, and sorry for the occasional typo, but look how many typos I didn't have!

2. I miss me. I really do. I lost her for a couple of years. I've been more depressed and negative and miserable than I'd like to admit. It started before I last got pregnant, but the pregnancy was such a rough one for me physically and mentally. I've had my dark times (and will again, I'm sure). Happily, after the fourth trimester (shit's real, people) and despite the dark days and imminent winter (oh, don't worry, I started taking my D weeks ago), I'm pretty darn thrilled with my life right now. There are some things that bug me...BUT (and it's a big one) my love and joy for the people around me is overflowing, and that ain't no small thang.

3. I am me. Reading through these posts, reminiscing about the early days with Niko, remembering what I love so much about life (reading! knitting! yoga! nature! etc!), has reminded me who I am and what I stand for. I'll always be a little bit grumpy (I always have been), but I know how to get that fun appreciative kind me back, and I think I already have. There's work to be done, and I'm on call.

Lastly, the world is such a crazy complicated place. So much joy and pain, kindness and suffering. I went to a fundraising event for a domestic violence shelter this morning (hello baby-free outing where I get to talk to adults about non-baby topics!), and it was such a mix of sadness and hope. This place does great things, and I want to be a person who does great things - by which I mean, helps others.

Um, lastly, lastly, have I told you about Felix? He's the real reason I'm re-finding myself. I remember how much Niko taught me in his first few years, how I got to view the world through his eyes. Everything was new and wonderful. I want to always look at the world that way. Felix has given me a reminder, but it's my job not to forget as he grows. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Oxygen Addict

This is not a post about my birth story - you don't want to hear that, and I don't want to tell it - BUT...

Remember those oxygen bars like 10 years ago? Oh, um, yeah, it was 14 (the one time I saw one at a techno bar in Tampa). Wow, times goes fast. I thought they were weird.

During Felix's birth, halfway through the EXCRUCIATING pushing stage, right after the EXCRUCIATING transitional contractions phase, the nurse placed an oxygen mask on my sweaty, bloated, tense, pain-riddled face, and it was blissful. It didn't take the pain away (the narcotics post-birth helped with that), but it brought me back . It saved me.*

Lately, I have noticed myself holding my breath all the time. At night, I lay in bed trying to do breathing exercises and failing miserably. I feel like there's no room inside this body. My muscles never relax. This is strange for me. I don't like it. I know it's partly the physical demands of life with a newborn, but I think it's partly anxiety, too, though I'm not even sure what I'm anxious about anymore. Nothing? Everything? It's just my normal or my abnormal or whatever.

How do we fix this? Practice, I guess. Maybe some aromatherapy, a massage, some acupuncture (ahem, Kevyn), but a return to routine yoga and meditation won't hurt. Felix will be 6 months in 2 1/2 weeks. It's time to nurture Lesley.

That's where O comes in. Better start there. Suck that O like an addict. It makes our bodies function, after all. Plus, I wouldn't mind a natural high.

* Note: I'm not downplaying the beauty of childbirth, in whatever form it comes in (nonmedicated, medicated, cesarean, etc.), and I feel pretty awesome, because I effing survived it. Niko's birth was easier, though not pain free. This time, I resisted as long as possible, but I was forced to take Pitocin. It made everything, as I mentioned earlier, EXCRUCIATING. The medical community needs to solve this problem. There must be a better option. I wasn't willing to take elective painkillers, and so I suffered. Tremendously. I don't regret it, but I think I've earned the right to mention how EXCRUCIATING it was in ALL CAPS at least four times now and off an on until it becomes a much blurrier memory.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where'd My Body Go??

Up there in the "bunch of nonsense articles for new moms" are ones often titled something like "How to Get Your Body Back." Get my body back? I didn't know I'd lost it! Gee, this parenting thing is hard enough, but doing it as an ethereal spirit is damn near impossible. I get it. We all want to be a little svelter, but this body of mine is always mine, 10 pounds heavier or not, saggy stretch-marked belly or not. It's a glorious machine that grows humans and feeds them. I want to be healthy - we all should want that for ourselves and loved ones, in my opinion - but our bodies should be treated kindly after the stress of pregnancy and childbirth. No, our bodies should be treated kindly always, and so should our minds. You don't need that negativity in your life. If you want to exercise, good for you. Be kind to your wonderful body, but don't push it. Do what makes you feel good, but don't worry about some stupid scale. Be you. Enjoy your lovely body, the only home you truly have. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Want Monster Strikes Again

The greatest lesson/tool I've learned from Buddhism is to feel and accept my feelings and thoughts. It's only then that you can truly let them go and move toward the ultimate goals of kindness, empathy, and compassion, as well as just the general contentment and wonder of this miraculous life. I could get into some heavy stuff about how I'm processing my reactions to current events, but that's an ongoing journey that takes constant effort and mindfullness. Now for something more trivial:

The Want Monster Strikes again! I've been thinking about and trying to suppress my material wants lately, so let's just admit them and move on.

1. a house
2. a car
3. clothes that fit a post-Felix body

I consider 1-3 necessities, with 3 being the most urgent and 2 being the one that can wait until my rust-bucket finally breathes her last exhausty breath.

4. fine chocolates
5. fancy soaps
6. craft supplies
7. expensive health food items and/or fresh produce

4-6 are totally not necessary but would give me little moments of pleasure, but one could argue that 7 could have a real affect on my quality of life. 

7. books, all of them, more than I could possibly read
8. book shelves, tons
9. a house with room for all these books and shelves 

7-8 are essential. 9 brings us full circle.

There. I've admitted it all. I feel better. Now back to my awesome family on this beautiful Saturday, hanging out in the living room, sleeping baby on my lap, kindergartener at my feet building with Legos, partner looking cute in his jammies nearby, dog curled up and not barking or antagonizing the turtles, coffee at hand, Talking Heads concert on the tube, and the anticipation of watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them with girlfriends in town later today. Life is good.